My students love doing songs when we “sing in our head” and I love the musicianship it makes them have. It is a challenge for them and a great way for me to see who really has a grasp on the song. This is the basic principal of audiation is…
The Gordon Institute for Music Learning says: “Audiation is the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. One may audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music” (https://giml.org/mlt/audiation/).
For me this happens in a couple ways in my music classroom.
Audiation for Learning Songs
This past year I saw Patrick Ware at the AOSA conference in Texas. I have seen him present multiple times, and if you ever get the chance go see him. He is very engaging, high energy, and his stuff is awesome to use in your classroom. One of the things I found most interesting from is workshop this fall was not a particular song or lesson, but a way he taught his kids the songs. Instead of just having kids echo what he did, he added another step. He had them “think” the music 1 time before singing it.
For example; teacher sings phrase of song, students think phrase of song, students sing phrase of song. Repeat. Patrick added a visual cue for this process having 3 colored cards. Red for “listen” (when the teacher was singing), Yellow for “think” (when the kids used the audiation), and then Green for “go/sing” (when the kids sang).
Personally, I found this to be very time consuming to do it for each phrase of the song. It was very amusing to watch us teachers try and sing right away for the echo instead of “think” it first; just because we are use to doing it the same way. For me when I tried this in my own classroom I found it worked best when we put the entire song together. We would do regular echoing for learning the phrases of the songs, and putting 2 phrases together. Then when it came time to put the whole song together, I would implement this “think” time for the students. I believe it gives the students a chance to try it once without the fear of making mistakes out-loud.
Some extra tidbits:
- Sometimes when doing songs with motions, or even just a good old steady beat, I still allow the students to do the movements during the “think” time. This gives them an extra way of remembering the words.
- For my youngest students, I will allow them to use their “magic lips” and mouth the words during the think time. Again, helping them be as successful as possible but still work towards the goal of singing the song in their head.
- I have also tried this on the instruments when learning melodies, although it looks slightly different. If the students need an extra practice playing the melody, I have them “air play” right above the bars. This way they can get the movement of how the mallets should go but have a chance to work out any kinks they might have before playing.
Audiation during Singing
One of my favorite ways to challenge my students when learning songs is to take out words while they are singing. I do this with numerous songs over all my grade levels. By the time they get to the end of 3rd grade and beyond they know the drill with what we are doing so it becomes easier for them, but I know it is still giving them a challenge (but a challenge they can be successful with!) Here is how it goes down (my visual example is using Frog in the Meadow):
We start by learning or singing a song like normal. We learn the whole song and the students are able to sing it independently. Then I choose 1 word or short phrase to add a body percussion/movement(BP) to. We practice doing the song using that BP for that word. Then we add another BP to a different word. Sometimes I choose the BP sound, sometimes I let the students.
We continue this pattern until all the words I have chosen for sound are in. Then the fun really begins. 1 by 1 again I take away the words being sung. The students still have to do the BP sound for that word, but they must sing the word in their head. We keep subtracting words, until all our BP words are being sung in our head. If I want a super challenge, and it works with the song and BP, I will have the students sing the entire song in their head doing the BP where appropriate.
This is a great way for the students to not only internalize the beat, but mainly the melody. They have to be able to not sing a word but still sing the melody in their head so that when they have to sing again they are on the right note. This is especially challenging if you have them internalize the very first word.
This is not the only song I do this on, but it can be done on almost any short song you would like! Enjoy!